What matters more: what you do or who you are?
My default is to focus on the doing things of life. What are my plans for the weekend? What will I get done today? Who will I spend time with? What will I cook for supper? And for the most part, this works. It’s life, and it’s good and joyful.
The problem is, task-focused living can become spiritually stagnant. When I focus on the tasks in a day instead of the type of person I’m becoming, I forget that the way I live matters. For example, a day full of selfishness can feel successful if I’ve completed my to-do list: even if I missed opportunities to serve others or pray.
We must pay attention to how well we’re reflecting Christ: because when we don’t, we subconsciously assume we’re doing fine. We sure notice others’ slip-ups and flaws, but avoid turning the searching eye to our own hearts.
God’s desire, though, is to see us being constantly transformed to live more like Christ:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
-Romans 8:29, emphasis added
But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
-1 John 2:5-6
“God is far more interested in what you are than in what you do. We are human beings, not human doings.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life.
(See also Eph. 5:1-2, 1 Peter 2:21, and 2 Cor. 3:18)
As you can probably tell, I’ve been hit over the head with this concept lately. It’s filled my journal and prayers for the past week. I just can’t stop thinking about it: Honestly, do I live a Christ-like life? Or am I too selfish and busy to bother? Here are a few things (selected from a seriously extensive list) that God has shown me I need to work on:
Even that is quite an exhausting lineup. Doesn’t it overwhelm you to think of the things you want to change? Thank goodness for God’s Spirit in us and grace for us!
We also have the Bible, which is full of commands, examples of Godly men and women, and the words and life of Jesus. His commands don’t exist to exasperate or annoy us, but to show us the best life he designed from the very beginning. He created us, and knows what’s most fulfilling, effective, and healthy for us. Living like Christ turns out to be a marvelous blessing!
At this point, you could be thinking a few things. Maybe you know something specific you want to change about how you live. Maybe you’re intimidated by the thought of truly inspecting your heart. Or maybe you don’t think there’s much you need to change.
No matter where you’re at, know that God desires to shape and change every Christian throughout their entire life. It is his joy when his children look increasingly like him!
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” -John 15:1-2
I encourage you to ask God how he wants to change you. Try your hardest to be totally honest and open with him. Don’t attempt to guard any corner of your heart, desires, or motivations: he already knows it all anyways.
If you’re having trouble pinpointing what he wants to tell you, read the Bible. Journal about it. Read about Jesus’ life of love, selflessness, service, and obedience to God. Pray about it consistently. I’ve been focusing on and praying about this for a week, and he’s continued to give me new things to put into action.
The main idea is to make sure you’re intentional about it. We don’t become Christlike by living on autopilot. Righteous living is simply not human nature. This means that we have to rely on God power and equipping, and also put in the effort necessary to make changes. Honesty and accountability with close Christian friends is also helpful.
It’s at this point that I feel we need a reminder: We do not work on ourselves to gain value, prove ourselves, or earn salvation. This is not simply self-improvement, and Jesus already gave his life that we could be saved.
Instead, we do this to follow the original blueprints of humanity as God’s image. We live for him as an enthusiastic response to his offer of a better way, for his glory in us. And ultimately, we look forward to the day we’re united with our Savior and finally become perfected images of him!
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
-1 John 3:2-3
Set your heart on this heavenly day as you strive to live your earthly days like Christ. I'm right there beside you!
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!